Football is mainly about athleticism. Music is about creativity.
But can football be a little artistic and music just a tad physical?
Bryn Duffield, Ben Guiles and Mark Bowne are living the dream. Not only are they enjoying the best of both worlds, they’re experiencing the subtle nuances of the crossovers.
Duffield, Guiles and Bowne are all upper-class members of the Lebanon Valley College football team. But off the field, Duffield, Guiles and Bowne – along with recent LVC grad and non-football-playing Zach Rowe – comprise the aspiring rock band ‘Against The Grain’.
“I personally feel that sometimes when I listen to rock music it gets me pumped, gets me ready to play football,” said Bowne. “When I’m on the field, I play a song in my head. I’d like to do both together. We’ve played some of our songs (on a CD) in the locker room before a game and everyone gets hyped.”
“Our name describes us and our music,” said Duffield. “It seems like you don’t see too many guys who play sports and also play music. I think we get a lot of resentment from some of the other bands on campus because we play sports.”
With pads on their shoulders, Duffield is a senior outside linebacker for the Flying Dutchmen, Bowne toils in the trenches as a nose tackle and Guiles, a tailback out of Columbia, is LVC’s top ground gainer. With instruments in their hands, Duffield is ‘Against The Grain’s’ front man, lead singer and creative inspiration, Bowne a hard-playing drummer and Guiles a waling lead guitarist.
“Football may not be that creative for the defense,” said Guiles. “But for a tailback, creativity is a part of it. My coaches tell me I can pick a spot, pick my own hole. It’s creative in that I get to make my own decisions.”
“When I was younger, I had a dream of being an NFL player,” said Bowne. “When I started playing drums, the first band I was in, after our first show, I loved being a musician. I love the crowd reaction. I love being an entertainer.”
Duffield and Browne have been jamming together since they were both freshmen three years ago. The current version of “Against the Grain’ has been a band for about a year now.
“Mark and I had been playing together and looking for two guys to complete the band, and everything just came together,” explained Duffield. “We were both recruited to play football and we’ve been roommates since our freshmen year. We just had an interest in music. I was into music and Mark was into music. We were both into the same style, so we just started jamming.”
“I was going home one weekend and I was carrying my guitar,” said Guiles. “Mark saw me and he said, ‘Hey, are you any good with that thing?’ I said, ‘I’m OK’. We just clicked.”
Duffield characterized ‘Against the Grain’s’ musical stylings as a cross between new-age rock and classic rock. Last semester, the band churned out its first – self-titled – 14-song CD and is currently working on a second.
“As a nose guard, I don’t have to think anywhere as much as an outside linebacker,” said Bowne. “I play hard, kick some butt in the trenches and react on impact. I kind of relate that to drumming. If I think too much on the drums, I’ll get off beat. It’s kind of like, you can never play the same solo twice.”
“It is different,” said Duffield. “The team definitely helps us get exposure. Most of the guys on the team are fans. It’s a team effort – in both respects.”
‘Against the Grain’ has performed live about eight to ten times, most notably at LVC’s Battle of the Bands competition last year where it finished second, and three appearances at Studio One, an all-ages venue in Palmyra.
“What I would like to see happen is to make a living from music,” said Guiles. “It’s been a dream of mine. I don’t know if it’s realistic. We all are different. But the fact that we are all different contributes to our friendship and music.”
“I’m going to be honest with you, at this point of my life, if I had to pick between the two, I’d have to give up football,” said Bowne. “I’ve been playing football since I was young and I’ve been playing music for a while and I love them both. It might be that a new stage of my life is beginning. Not that I don’t love playing football. It’s something only a few people get to do and I’m not saying I’m disappointed with my career at LVC.”
“Obviously we want to keep getting our music out there,” said Duffield. “We have a good following. We just need more exposure. We’d like to go somewhere with the band. But we’re concentrating on our degrees right now, because that’s the most important thing.
“None of us think we’re going to the NFL,” concluded Duffield. “It’s (football) something to do. Coming into college, we had four years to play football. Music is something we can do our whole lives.”